NBA Eastern Conference Futures Betting Exposure at Bovada
It's no stretch to say that perhaps four or five teams could take home the Western Conference title this season. Yes, the Los Angeles Lakers are big 13/10 favorites to do so at Bovada. But Steve Nash is 38 and Kobe Bryant 34. Injuries obviously are more likely to happen the older a player gets, although both Nash and Kobe have mostly avoided them. In addition, new Lakers center Dwight Howard is coming off major back surgery. Perhaps that's why the book isn't overly exposed on the Lakers to win the West as shown in our Western Conference futures story earlier this week.
While the Lakers have to deal with a very deep West field and the likes of San Antonio, Oklahoma City, the L.A. Clippers and Denver, the Eastern Conference appears to be a different story heading into the 2012-13 NBA season: It's Miami and essentially no one else.
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The reigning NBA champion Heat have yet to finish with the East's best regular-season record in the two years LeBron James and Chris Bosh have been in South Beach, but they have won the conference title in each of the past two seasons. And Miami is the overwhelming 5/8 favorite to make it three straight. However, the book isn't exposed there because of the short odds.
It's no surprise the Heat are such big favorites. LeBron is scarily just entering his prime years, and Bosh and Dwyane Wade are both healthy after injury problems last year. Miami also addressed arguably its biggest need this season, perimeter shooting, in adding the NBA's all-time 3-point shooting king, Ray Allen. That the Heat were able to lure Allen away from rival Boston made it all the sweeter. The Heat are 9/4 favorites to repeat as NBA champions and the book isn't exposed there, either.
Easily the team the book fears most in the East this season is Boston. The Celtics couldn't convince Allen to return but re-signed Kevin Garnett to give the core group of KG, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo perhaps one last shot at another title. No doubt Celtics executive Danny Ainge was emboldened by Boston leading the Heat 3-2 in last season's East Finals before LeBron took over and Miami rallied to win the series.
Boston has addressed the loss of Allen, signing former Mavericks sixth man Jason Terry and acquiring shooting guard Courtney Lee from Houston. Guard should be a position of strength once Avery Bradley returns from shoulder surgery. And the Celtics believe that first-round pick Jared Sullinger is ready to contribute as a rookie and add some needed bulk down low.
The Celtics opened at 8/1 to win the East but are currently at 7/1 and the book is easily the most exposed there of any conference team. Bovada is more exposed on Boston at 16/1 to win the NBA title than any other team in the league - the C's have taken so much action they have dropped from an opening of 25/1.
Some bettors are taking a flier on the Bobcats at 200/1 to win the East, and the book is actually exposed there just because of the number -- by far longest odds of any team to win its conference.
It would be a miracle for Charlotte to accomplish that considering the Bobcats finished last season 7-59 for the worst single-season winning percentage (.106) in NBA history. Charlotte, which missed out on winning the draft lottery and the chance to nab Kentucky star Anthony Davis, opens its season Nov. 2 at home vs. Indiana looking to end a 23-game losing streak. The record is 26 straight losses by the post-LeBron Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010-11.
Finally, on the season wins totals the book is overly exposed on just one Eastern Conference team to go over its total: Toronto at 32.5 (-130).The Raptors finished 23-43 in last season's lockout-shortened season. But this year, they add 2011 No. 5 overall pick Jonas Valanciunas. The 6-foot-10 Lithuanian stayed in Europe last season but is considered one of the top overseas prospects ever and likely would have gone No. 2 overall in this year's draft. However, Valanciunas struggled for Lithuania in the London Olympics, averaging just 6.3 points and 6.0 rebounds, but he's only 20.
The Raptors missed out on getting the free-agent Nash to return to his native Canada this offseason but landed a good point guard consolation prize in Kyle Lowry. Add in a healthy Andrea Bargnani, and Toronto should be a much better offensive team in 2012-13. The former No. 1 overall pick played just 31 games a season ago due to injury but averaged 19.5 points per game.
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